You’ve seen them. People sit still, with frozen faces, and stare, with no signs of life during an online meeting or presentation. Zombies! So many people forget that in an online video situation, participants can still see you. How you act and move sends signals that say you are listening and agree or disagree with what is said. No movement, then no signals – no life – Zombie! Now it almost Halloween, and if you want to be a zombie, that’s fine, but bring a trick or treat bag.
If you were talking to someone face-to-face and suddenly, they stopped reacting and were very still, not communicating, what would you do? Call 911? When a comedian suddenly feels silence from an audience and sees that they are staring, he says, “You better move, or they’re going to throw dirt on you!”
Why is there a tendency to become an Online Zombie when we are in a video meeting or presentation? Fatigue. Online takes more energy than a face-to-face meeting. It’s estimated that an online session that lasts 30 minutes can feel like a 45 to an hour meeting face-to-face. That’s why we feel so drained and lose all signs of life. We can hear but not move. We are looking but do not see. Our bodies are there, but our brains have taken a walk.
How can you avoid being an Online Zombie? How can you show you are alive? Ready to communicate? Try using listening techniques. Title your head, smile and when you agree, nod in agreement.
Your eyes are also crucial in showing you’re not part of the undead. In a video meeting, everyone uses a camera. When people see your image, they look at our eyes first. Your eyes tell them that you are listening. There is an intensity in your eyes that says you are present. That’s why you shouldn’t look off-camera either down or to the side. Looking directly into your camera will send a signal that you are engaged with others and among the living.
Believe it or not, communicating online can be fun. All it takes is movement and sending the right signals. Be on guard when you feel you are fading or disengaging. Look at who is talking and think about what they are saying. An active brain produces active signals in the body. Ask a question on the topic and try to deepen the conversation. Remember, zombies, don’t ask questions. They grunt and groan but are not articulate. Show that you are alive and connect with others and watch how people come back to life. Online Zombies can be saved!